My guilty pleasure shows, the ones I watch on those rare occasions when I am home by myself and have nothing to do (or at least would like to put off what I am suppose to do), are restaurant makeover shows. It doesn’t matter the title, the host, or the characters. I am sucked into the identical plot over and over again. A failing entrepreneur invites a celebrity chef into their restaurant to help them become more successful. Initially, they admit that minor changes are in order, but don’t see any major cause for concern. The business owner’s management is flawless. The food is great. The decor could be updated. Just a tweak here and there and efforts will move from futile to flourishing. And then celebrity chef gives the reality check (in a varyingly dramatic way). He/she tells them the decor is dismal, the food is frightful, and by far the most monstrous piece that brings each element together is the mismanagement. Yet the owners who willingly invited the chef into their restaurant, who have seen this play out on different channels, seasons, and time slots, express shock. They shake their heads and fingers. “Not us!” they say. “We are different!” they say. “We only invited you here because we thought we only needed small changes!” they say.
It is hard to accept the jarring reality that we’re terrible. That the entirety of everything we have accomplished for ourselves is considered a heap of filthy rags (Isa 64:6). Our corrupted (Eph 4:22) business-as-usual model is rubbish, garbage, doo doo. You don’t need to drop a couple items off the menu; you need a new menu. You don’t need to gloss over the interior with a new color; you need some serious demolition work. Most of all, you are not one or two adjustments away from being an excellent entrepreneur; you need a new manager. A major overhaul is in order, not a minor adjustment. In order to do this Christian life, you must face there is a thread that tethers most of your issues: you making the decisions. Conversely, there is a simple solution to overcome challenges and have meaningful and lasting change: follow the model of Christ. Less us, more Christ until we are gone, and there is only Christ.
“I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20
The Rich Young Ruler (Luke 18). Man, oh man – it is so hard to read his story because it hits so close to home. He invited Christ into his life to look at what He had accomplished because he had a pretty good thing going. He thought he only needed a quick makeover. Then Jesus delivered some nauseating news to this guy: “You still lack one thing: Sell everything you own and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.” “Not me!” he thought. “I am different!” he thought. “I only invited you here because we thought we only needed small changes!” he sadly thought and walked away from Christ. Had he not heard this requirement from Jesus already? Matt 6:19-24 Luke 12:23; Or read about them in the law he kept? Deuteronomy 8:8-10; Psalm 62:10; Proverbs 11:28
Christ doesn’t call us to a simple makeover or even a renovation. Our response cannot be accomplished by purchasing a new Bible, hitting up church camp, signing up for a mission trip, going to a Bible college, following commandments, or doing good works. All of those things are beneficial, but they will not lead to lasting, permanent change – said by someone who has done ALL of those things. TRANSFORMATION is literally changing (trans-) our very form (uh, form). Tearing down the structure, ripping the very foundation from the earth, and then replacing it with a new foundation – our Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. THEN we seek our Chef, Architect, and Father for the new plan for our life. For some of us, God may have used His infinite plan to provide us with the tools to build with for His glory or repurpose some pieces from the rubble, but more likely than not, we may be called to do something completely new, difficult, and can only be accomplished with a new creation.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here! Do not conform to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” 1 Corinthians 5:17; Romans 12:2
TRANSFORMATION is not ours in a single day. It begins with the decision to demo, but is a lifelong, day-by-day challenge to change not only the way we act, but our very mindset that allows us to test and approve what God’s will is for our lives. When we transform our thinking, health, sickness, wealth, poverty, where we live, what college we attend, our occupation, our family, persecution, what we eat or drink, and even death are not our simple circumstance but tools at the disposal of our God. Every moment, every action becomes an opportunity to spread His good news of a coming Kingdom to begin the radical change in the hearts of others. Ultimately, we have a great hope in the struggle of living a transformed life now. Our lives will be transformed once-and-for-all, not over the course of a lifetime, but in a single instance – In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality (1 Cor 15:52,53). It all begins today with listening and looking to the one who has already accomplished it.